When travelers talk of heading up to Dharamshala (to see the Dalai Lama…), this is where they mean. Three kilometres north of Dharamshala town (or 10km via the looping bus route), McLeod Ganj is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and residence to a large Tibetan population, including many monks and nuns. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based just downhill at GangchenKyishong. McLeod attracts thousands of international visitors each year to volunteer with the Tibetan community, take courses in Buddhism, meditation or yoga, trek in the Dhauladhar mountains, shop for Tibetan crafts, or just hang out and enjoy the low-budget spiritual/alternative vibe and the many good cafes and restaurants dishing up Indo-Italo-Israeli-Tibetan food.
With an interesting mix of travelers, volunteers, maroon-robed monks and nuns, the international dharma crowd and an increasing flow of Indian tourists, you're never far from an interesting conversation here.
The Dalai Lama’s Temple: The huge complex is also known locally as Tsuglagkhang, this is the residence of the Dalai Lama. Although the private residence of His Holiness is out of bounds for tourists, the complex comprises of several shrines, temples, a Tibetan museum and souvenir stores. Each day, students congregate in the courtyard of the Namgyal Monastery and study ancient Buddhist philosophy—which makes for a highly intriguing visit.
A massive gilded statue of Buddha and two smaller statues of Guru Rinpoche and Chenresig stand amid natural serenity that the complex is filled to the brim with.
Bhagsunath Temple and Bhagsu Waterfall: Legend has it that King Bhagsu incurred the wrath of the snake god, and following a war, the king was pardoned. In honour of the snake god’s generosity, King Bhagsu built the shrine. This medieval Shiva temple is one of the most important places to visit in McLeod Ganj and is frequented by members of both Hindu and Gorkha communities. The location of the temple is surrounded by pristine-looking coniferous forests, hills and a cascading waterfall that flows through the temple itself!
Saint John’s Church in the Wilderness: Constructed in 1852, the church was built on the lines of neo-gothic architecture and is dedicated to John the Baptist. Around 50 years after being built, the Kangra earthquake destroyed the church’s bell tower—leaving the rest of the church undamaged. The church is embedded amid a grove of Deodars, with a quaint graveyard lying in the same grounds. Lord Elgin, once the Governor-General and Viceroy of India is known to have been mesmerised by McLeod Ganj so much, that he wished for it to be the summer capital of India.
Dal Lake: The slopes of McLeod Ganj have one of the most picturesque lakes around. Named after the more-celebrated Dal Lake in Srinagar, this small lake is close to a beautiful village called Tota Rani. Flanked by Deodar trees, that are so typical of the region, lend the lake a mystical ambiance. A small shrine dedicated to DurveshwarMahadev causes Dal Lake to be considered sacred, and a festival-fair held every year is evidence of that. The mid-altitude lake takes a greenish-hue and has varieties of fish inhabiting the water.
Triund: Constituting one of the top trekking trails in the country, the 9000-foot ridge behind the Dhauladhar range is Triund. Situated just nine kilometres away from McLeod Ganj, the extremely popular nine-kilometre trek is much sought-after. The Triund trail begins from Tushita road which is a not far from the main square.
The trail is also blessed with a view of the Moon Peak-Indrahar Pass, and it only gets better with snow-engulfed Dhauladhar Mountains on one side, and the Kangra valley on the other.
Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium
Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa
Masroor Rock-Cut Temple
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